Lilium candidum, the Madonna lily, is a plant in the true lily family. It is native to Balkans and the Middle East, and naturalized in other parts of Europe (France, Italy, Ukraine, etc.) as well as in North Africa, the Canary Islands, Mexico, and other places. It forms bulbs at ground level, and unlike other lilies, has a basal rosette of leaves through the winter, which die back in summer. A leafy flower stem, typically up to 1.2 metres (3 ft 11 in) high, sometimes up to 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) high, emerges in late spring and bears sweetly and headily fragrant flowers in summer. Flowers are white, flushed yellow at the base.
Madonna lilies in art and culture
There are translations of the Bible that identify the Hebrew word Shoshannah as 'lily' in Song of Songs ("As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." Song of Songs 2:2 (KJV)), not as a rose as is customary to translate. For example, Abraham ibn Ezra describes it as a white flower, which has a good fragrance, and has a six-petal flower and six stamens. But its identity is uncertain, because it does not fit with the description as "the lily of the valleys", because mostly it grows in the mountains. [clarification needed]
Cats are extremely sensitive to lily toxicity and ingestion is often fatal; households and gardens which are visited by cats are strongly advised against keeping this plant or placing dried flowers where a cat may brush against them and become dusted with pollen which they then consume while cleaning. Suspected cases require urgent veterinary attention. Rapid treatment with activated charcoal and/or induced vomiting can reduce the amount of toxin absorbed (this is time-sensitive so in some cases vets may advise doing it at home), and large amounts of fluid by IV can reduce damage to kidneys to increase the chances of survival.
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- 1 Kings 7:19
- 1 Kings 7:26
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- The European Garden Flora (1986)
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